NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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First Thing; Second Thing
by Dennis Ranahan

There are so many story lines on tonight’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams … while I’m focused on finding the one side available for a percentage point spread play.

Tonight’s game involves the only two teams that have not yet experienced their 2018 bye week. They are both off next week, extending their Thanksgiving holiday in line with the rest of us, that is not having to go back to work until Monday.

This game involves two teams in a Week Eleven matchup that combine for two or fewer losses for only the fourth time in the Super Bowl era. For those of you numerically focused, that would be 53 years. Which means there have been 14,144 NFL games played and only three of them had winning qualifications matching tonight’s contest in Los Angeles.

So, do we know who is going to win NFL game number 14,145?

There is a lot to work with.

Los Angeles came into this season by my motivational charts scheduled for a down turn. In 2017, the Rams snapped a 10-year losing run, and when a team has a huge winning campaign after years of failure, they consistently have a down year the following season.

If the Rams are having a down year, it is one of the best kept secrets in the football world.

The Rams are having a marvelous season and third-year signal caller Jared Goff is having an MVP calibre campaign. Their offense has more stars than the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and runningback Todd Gurley leads all NFL rushers.

The Rams firepower is not limited to the offensive side of the ball. Aaron Donald, now in his fifth season, is one of the league’s defensive players mentioned in the same breath as Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack and Houston Texan J.J. Watt. Men capable of single handily turning a result in their team’s favor.

The Rams have both the youngest coach in the league and one of the brightest. Sean McVay, comes from a coaching family like great quarterbacks follow in families with that strength. I’m thinking of the Manning and Luck legacies. Sean’s grandfather, John McVay, was both Head Coach of the New York Giants for three seasons and one of the essential architects for all five of the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl Championships. He was one of the first people to be added to Bill Walsh’s staff in 1978, and a major contributor with Carmen Policy in executing owner Eddie DeBartolo’s high standards.

While the youngest head coach in the league, McVay nevertheless showed a real sense of what was needed to win when his first coaching hire was defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Son of legendary NFL head coach Bum Phillips, the now 71-years-old Phillips offers a perfect balance when working in harmony with Los Angeles’ youthful head coach. The result is that what I thought was going to be a down year has turned into a 9-1 record and finds the Rams in hot pursuit of the New Orleans Saints for the NFC top seed come playoff time.

Now, before I surrender on my prediction in August that the Rams were in for a down year this season, I would like to point out that the first thing to go when season-to-season motivational patterns are in place, is point spread decisions. While the Rams are 9-1 straight-up, they haven’t made their backers any money when the point spread is factored into their results.

Against the spread, the Rams are 4-5-1. That includes a 3-0 start and only one point spread win in the past seven weeks.

Their opponent tonight is a different story.

The Chiefs didn’t come into this season off a breakthrough campaign. Kansas City came into 2018 on a much more balanced trajectory based on a solid organizational success rate in recent years. The Chiefs, by my numbers, were in a much better position to enjoy a solid campaign both straight up and versus the spread.

Then Head Coach Andy Reid caught lightning in a bottle with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In his second season, and first as Kansas City starter, Mahomes is enjoying success not ever seen in football before. His play has not only resulted in the Chiefs 9-1 straight-up mark, but also translated well in the point spread category with an 8-2 record against the number.

The first thing to go when a team is in a down motivational year based on a breakthrough campaign the season before, is the point spread result.

The second, is the straight-up result.

Qoxhi Picks: Kansas City Chiefs (+3) over Los Angeles Rams